Blogher 14 was an experience I sorely needed. Not just for the beautiful chance to get away from it all, to visit California, to network with like-minded women. I needed it because I needed to hear what my gut was telling me already. I needed validation from those who had gone on before that I was on the right path, with the right thoughts and motivations. I didn't get to spend much time in the Expo room getting free samples, but what I brought back was much more valuable.
1. It's OK to Be Afraid
Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress was very clear when she said “You don’t have to be fearless.” Just hearing those words helped me embrace my terror and anxiety as tools, not afflictions to be healed from. As long as I march through them with words, they are not a hinderance. They are only a problem if I let them STOP ME.
2. Use Your Words
I almost cried during the Future of Personal Blogging session where all bloggers agreed that you don’t have to worry about monetization unless you want to. The best SEO is great content and lots of words, because Google loves words. Just focus on telling your story. This has been one of my hugest setbacks...the pressure of performance over storytelling. I’m not a tech person, I’m a WRITER. I just want to write. But I felt like I needed to get good at all kinds of other things in order for my blog to matter. Now I can breathe easy. When it’s time, these things can come. Just focus on the work. I have a story to tell.
3. There Are No Small Blogs, Only Small Bloggers
Multiple times when I introduced myself to others at Blogher I would apologize for my presence. “My blog is tiny, I never work on it.” But when we first got there we were told “90% of you don’t feel like you belong here. And it’s not true. You all belong here.” GOD BLESS the woman who during the newbie breakfast asked “How do you blog? I have all these thoughts I want to get out and I don’t know how to get them online!” If she belongs there, anyone does! So what if I have been inconsistent for six years? I blog. I write. I belong.
4. Know Your Worth
Last year I did something that I don’t exactly regret, but I also don’t feel great about. I wrote a piece for Huffington Post that went viral, gaining 30K FB likes in a single week. And it didn’t make a dime even though Huffington Post is a multi-billion dollar company. They don’t pay their bloggers. I created new content for them, and I was not paid. And because I was in my “I’m not blogging much” phase I wasn’t really able to take my appearance on Huffpo Live to the next level. Writing for free on my blog is one thing, giving away content to a journalism giant is another. And if I do decided to monetize, I will need to be careful to not compromise my integrity and make sure what I am being paid is worth the parts of my soul I have to give away to do it. Writing is sacred, but so is eating.
5. Use Your Time Wisely
I’ve made up a thousand reasons not to write and one of the biggest is no time. But somehow I have time for Facebook (idly clicking on my newsfeed over and over when there is nothing new) Candy Crush (Level 425 and I have NEVER PAID A DIME!). I watch tv and movies and hang out with my friends and family but mostly? I waste time. I need to spend more time consuming other’s art and working on my own. I remembering hearing a productivity expert talk about finding the “little minutes” in the day to get things done. It goes for loading the dishwasher, scrubbing the toilet, and it goes for writing too.
6. Play Well With Others
I never set out to be a blogger, I was a just a mom who wrote down funny stories about her kids and felt bad about not getting her journalism degree. I started a blog because people told me it would be a good idea. I unlocked my twitter updates for the same reason. But while I was writing and seeking exposure I wasn’t doing my part to support other writers the way I should. I should have been reading their blogs and commenting on them, not just to increase my own visibility but to build relationships and community. There are thousands of people out there making a difference, and we all need to hang together, support each other and listen to one another. I feel regret that I haven't built more of these relationships over the years.
7. I'm Enough.
At first I thought the band The MRS were kind of cheesy but their song "I'm Enough" has not stopped echoing in my head. I am enough for my family and friends. I'm enough for my dreams and my future. Whatever I am meant to do, I have enough inside me to make that happen.